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The Silver One – Progress, and Ursula K. Le Guin

The Silver One – Progress, and Ursula K. Le Guin

The rough width of my book so far.

This month I have been busy writing, illustrating, and designing for my book, The Silver One—as well as posting many new videos to my Youtube Channel in an effort to catch up to the present.

Though the month isn’t quite over yet, I have had a really wonderful time. It has been productive and inspiring both, in terms of the chapters I have been writing, but also in the discovery of the characters. A major block for me was not being able to let go of who they had been, for who they were becoming, and how they had changed.

The book isn’t as clean cut, nor black and white as I had imagined (though yes, it was my intent to twist these around on you in the most spectacular of ways). It has grown a lot in wisdom, and evokes a different mood and perspective on reality—one, I think, which will offer a lot of insight.

I suppose it is in this way my work has been likened to author Urusla K. Le Guin’s. Though I only discovered her work in July last year, it has touched me deeply in a manner beyond words, and she has quickly risen to become my idol of idols; someone I admire and respect greatly in her contribution to this world.

I wrote an article on that very discovery, before this website was made, which I will share below. It is deeply personal, but I suppose I have realised fame and success is an illusion, and something I would dispel to pave the way for other artists who might never have tried.

No matter how talented we are, all of us are human, and we all feel the same things.

 

 On Ursula K. Le Guin

(Dated 2016_07_29)

 

Recently I read the first two chapters of my book out to a group of complete strangers. They told me that I should look up an author called Ursula K. Le Guin, for our styles were apparently similar.

At the time I didn’t pay it any heed—how could I, in my entire life’s experience never having met an author who’s work was like my own (though I have always admired Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, I would not say our styles are similar)? And, even if they were similar, it would only reflect to me how others saw my work, which may not at all have been how I wanted them to see it–for instance, only the violence and the tragedy, rather than the messages behind it.

Week after week these writers earned my trust, and so slowly I began to open up and read them other works I cared about, or their more experimental counterparts. Mostly I read them poetry—this being the quickest and easiest to write, when nothing else I worked on could be shared (*cough* Pandora).

People had mentioned the name to me a few more times in between, but as always it rolled off my back like water on a duck. I couldn’t admit it to myself, but I was afraid of what they saw in me, afraid that I wouldn’t like what I saw reflected back, and that it would cramp the budding style I was just beginning to find security in.

It was after one of those poetry readings that the name finally stuck, because they offered me a glimpse of how they saw me, and my work. To me they said “one day your poetry will become your writing, as it is Ursula Le Guin’s…”

That kind and insightful comment allowed me to feel the hope I had long been denying, even as my hand reached to my journal to finally write it down. From this I went strait to the local library, and borrowed A Wizard of Earthsea (the recommended book, for my love of dragons), and it was love at first sight. The blurb had been superbly written, appealing to everything I loved in stories, but what truly took my breath away was the song below:

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk’s flight
on the empty sky
~The Creation of Ea

 

Dragonlance, anyone?

Since then I have read many of her works, and fallen in love with each and every one. I love the human ark of her career, and that her books are more often than not small—that one doesn’t need to write huge volumes of epic literature in order for something to be beautiful.

I also love her insight as a person. The sheer wisdom of her words… for the first time in my life I have met someone who at once makes me feel hopeful, and at the other shows such perfection that it almost disarms my drive to write, for it exists already.

So I write now because it is fun, and that the stories I have are for this generation—and that, like always, they will be reborn and renewed as the cycle continues.

The 2-3 hour speedpainting from 2015.

To end this post, I will share with you all new illustration. It is a repaint of a later work, and one which took itself in unexpected directions.

I have been moving towards a call I have felt for a long time now, and this is towards more painterly, symbolic, expressionist art—art which tells stories, like this, this, or even this.

Silver Wing (Repaint)

I feel like I got a little bit stuck on the details of this one, but it is a step in the right direction, and piece by piece I am getting there 🙂 I might have to try a work like the ones above, I have the perfect chapter for them…

Anyway, I wish you all a wonderful January, and I will keep you posted! My plan is to write one article a month here, but I’ve been pretty busy lately (pfft, busy… what she really means is swimming with dolphins).

The Dreaming Sentinel 😉

On the Making of This Website (Welcome)

On the Making of This Website (Welcome)

It is a strange thing to see this website finally existing before me. The design first came to me—the background, at least—in the time of 2012. Then it was something basic, the mockup a rudimentary Flash creation, with individually site-mapped pages and a colourful array of side-buttons.

That was also the year I began to blog, and over time came to realise that a website was much more than manually-updated content—one needed something in which to write and publish articles, without having to re-arrange the layout (and this dives into the mechanics of the way a website displays, from the “back-end”).

As an artist, I was far more familiar with front-end design, and while I could create the above using something like Dreamweaver or Adobe Flash, it would be a sad thing. In my eyes, form and function are intertwined, and when one unbalances the other, beauty is lost.

And so it came to be that I put the creation of this website off, all the while honing my ideas and design, even as the realms of my world expanded. I don’t remember where it was that the tree and flower became one in the form of a cherry blossom, but it was a vision remained; lingering on through the years. The design resurfaced again in late 2015, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I finally began taking steps towards its creation…

My choice made, the first step I took was buying Adobe Dreamweaver’s “Classroom in a Book”. This I did to better understand the technical aspects of web design and development, and it was invaluable to me in terms of what I learned. Through it I came to realise that Dreamweaver was not what I was looking for—not with my skills, and the way I desired to allocate my time.

In the end, I decided it would be better if I used an existing content-management-system (WordPress.org), rather than become a web-developer. Compiling the sketches I had made, I chose the closest theme I could find to my own design (Nisarg by Falguni Desai), studied the way my new website worked, and ran with what I had.

I spent about a two weeks painting the background image (my guess is around 32 hours of actual painting time), all the while (beta) testing how it displayed. I did this on an offline server I had set up through the program MAMP, allowing me to make all of my development changes locally before I took the website live. It’s especially useful now, as I can still test any new features in a safe environment before making them public.

I developed the website iteratively, learning as I went. I’d edit what was immediately available to me, and then with greater understanding move forwards. Eventually I found myself not only working on CSS (which is wonderfully user-friendly), but PHP as well—I began to go down to the bones of the website itself, and change its very structure in order to create further customisations. For this, the internet is a marvellous thing; if you have only the desire, and the patience, then the information is there for you to grasp—there are many other people who have walked where you will, and are willing to share what they have learned in the process.

Once that was done, I installed some very useful plug-ins (one of which insults my writing style 😉 ), and turned to the content of the website itself. I did research on metadata and site-indexing, and how I could best implement these in balance with my artistic integrity and values. In my defence, I have had a fair bit of experience in web design and their content. I know the basic structure of websites, the purpose of what they contain, what I should include and omit, what I’m hoping to achieve, and how I can bundle these all together to reach a desired effect.

In any research you do, hold your values close to your heart. People will tell you to do one thing or do the other, but this is only what works for them, or statistically informed (by which no great works of art would ever be created). You are you, and you are unique; take what they say into consideration, but ultimately, run with what you like best. Follow your heart and make your own decisions on your instincts—in the end, you may find yourself suggesting advice to others as well.

The learning curve has been long, and I still have much to do, but right now I am in awe of what I have made. To finally see what I have dreamed of for so long, standing before me… It is a strange thing indeed.

 

 Welcome to my world;
The Dreaming Sentinel.